Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Previewing Saturday, November 10th

 Please go back and check out my two-part preview for November 9th here and here.

Saturday, November 10th is the second day of the 2012-13 college basketball regular season. And while Saturday is usually the biggest day of the week, and will be for the rest of the season, November 10th will be a down day. With Friday being the season kick-off, only a few games got bumped to Day Two. Of those, only two are really worth much of a watch:

Elon at Butler (2 PM) - Technically, this game is part of the Maui Invitational. But it's getting increasingly silly that these tournaments add these extra meaningless games. The Maui Invite is an eight team tournament that will take place in Maui, on national television, in mid-November. The fact that each of the eight teams is playing a home game against a cream puff a week or so before that tournament, in a game that will in no way decide whether they get to go to Maui or not, and that will not be nationally televised seems... silly, to say the least.

But that doesn't matter, because this is a chance to check out what I view as a very underrated Butler team that is beginning its first year in the Atlantic Ten. They were underwhelming last year, but only lose Ronald Nored and Chrishawn Hopkins (and considering how awful Hopkins was last year, and how many shots he took despite not being able to hit any of them, that latter loss might be a little addition by subtraction). Butler is loaded in the paint with proven quality players like Andrew Smith, Khyle Marshall and Kameron Woods.

The question mark for Butler is on the perimeter, particularly with the loss of Nored. Jackson Aldridge was last year's stud recruit, but he had a very underwhelming freshman season. Roosevelt Jones played well last season, but he's more of a wing than a shooting guard. Rotnei Clarke is a big transfer from Arkansas, and he'll be very good, but he's not a point guard. Brad Stevens knew where his team's weakness was and loaded up on guards in his 2012 recruiting class, led by Kellen Dunham. I'll be curious to see if Chris Harrison-Docks gets some playing time, despite being the lowest-rated of Butler's 2012 recruits, simply because he's the only other real point guard option behind Aldridge.

If Aldridge can develop into one of the better point guards in the A-10 then Butler will be a Top 25 team. If not then they might be stuck on the bubble all season. Elon isn't much of a test (they only went 9-9 in the SoCon last year), but this is still the first chance to see this new Butler team.

SIU-Edwardsville at #15 Missouri (4 PM) - There are warning signs all over this Missouri season. I think they're a Tournament team, but nowhere near the 15th best team in the country. Last year's team was basically Mike Anderson's team - packed full of experienced players who were experts at Anderson's system. They lose five of the players from their seven man rotation, and a sixth (Michael Dixon) has not been practicing with the team and is suspended indefinitely. Laurence Bowers comes back from injury, and they add a few transfers (Jabari Brown, Keion Bell, Alex Oriakhi and Earnest Ross), but this is basically going to be a totally new team. The freshman most likely to make an impact is 6'9" Stefan Jankovic, though there are no true blue chippers in Haith's 2012 class.

Like most people, I just want to see what this combination of Missouri talent looks like. But unlike most people, I'm not hopeful. The complete list of really successful teams thrown together with a bunch of transfers consists of:     . They'll win this game easily, but it will still be an opportunity to see what the team looks like in live action.

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